Wk 2 Meet of the Week Preview: Fairfax Station @ Old Keene Mill
Our Week 2 Meets of the Week feature teams in the middle divisions of the NVSL, all of which started 2018 with a win. Furthermore, from our perspective, we believe this weekend will be critical in determining the outcome for the divisional crown in D3, D4, D6, and D11. This is because week 2 in the NVSL features the 1 seed vs the 6 seed, the 2 seed vs the 4 seed and the 3 seed vs the 5 seed–while in the upper divisions this can create lopsided matchups, most of the league should have a very competitive contest. This is because the 6 seed should be a team that moved up from a lower division after winning or finishing near the top a season ago, and the 1 seed is the team that dropped out of a higher division into their current tier. This weekend, all of our featured meets, with the exception of Vienna Woods vs Virginia Run, have been forged into existence by this reality. In the process of having two teams come together who were each in different divisions a year ago, we are virtually guaranteed a great meet that will come down to slight advantages in age groups, genders, relays, and intangible factors that will dictate momentum over the course of the morning! With that said, our Ninjas have poured through the data, and have broken down the matchups to identify potentially decisive moments in determining the outcome of each meet; however, bear in mind that the score is 0-0 on Friday and the clocks read 00:00–nothing is official until the swimmers hit the finish!
The Fairfax Station Flyers (FS) and Old Keene Mill Ospreys (OKM) are two pools with storied traditions in the NVSL. The Flyers had been a stalwart in the top few divisions since their entry into the league 30 years ago and claimed a few league championship crowns in the 90s. OKM is one of the most recognizable acronyms around, due to former Olympic medalist Ed Moses’ status as the 15-18 breast league record holder for the past 20 years! Though both pools have had different levels of success over their history, they find themselves in an intriguing Week 2 Division 11 matchup! OKM went 4-0-1 last season in D13 on their way to claiming both the divisional and divisional relay crowns. Station dropped from D7 following a difficult 1-4 season. However, both teams enter week 2 coming off important wins to the start the season and hope to build on that success this Saturday.
When analyzing the matchup, this meet threw the Ninjas for a loop! That is because, on paper, Old Keene Mill seems to be comfortably winning the whole way until all the sudden they lose. Working our way backward in search of a loose end, it is important to point out that Station should comfortably win 8 consecutive relays to close out the meet, allowing themselves to end the individual portion of the meet down as much as 20 points! Station could very well find themselves in a similar hole on game day because these two teams hardly match up at all–the Ospreys pick up points in big swaths then appear stuck picking up only 2nds and 3rds behind consistent Flyer first-place points. Every time it looks like maybe Station will really change things up and go back on top, OKM has a lopsided race that seeds their swimmers to pick up 8 or 9 points and create some distance between the two teams. However, paper is often only so useful as to tell you who is swimming and in which lane…after all, this is summer league swimming and nothing is guaranteed!
Let’s break this meet down by event to try to follow the possibilities ahead
Expect the Ospreys to jump out to an early lead in the first events of the day, regularly outpacing their Flyer counterparts. Without being challenged all that much, OKM should quickly extend their lead to double digits until the 11-12 boys race. The 11-12 age group will play upset all day long, stopping Old Keene Mill from going on a run that could put the Flyers effectively out of reach. Nikki Byrnes and Olivia Waugh should have no problems putting up 10 important points going 1st back to back. After a difficult 13-14 boys race, the Flyers will get it going again with the older swimmers, starting at 13-14 girls. Not only should Elaine Chua look comfortable the whole way, but her teammate in lane 2 Jacqueline Lhommedieu may find a way to sneak into a 2nd place finish which could give the visiting Flyers a solid surge of energy and unexpected points. The freestyle will end with each team grabbing a bunch of points, first OKM, then FS in the final two races, putting Station slightly in the hole to start the meet. The meet only improves from freestyle for FS–it appears as though they backloaded their lineup, putting most of their stronger swimmers in later events, so as long as the Flyers keep the damage to a minimum and finish free down less than 19 points, they are on track. OKM needs to deliver the knockout punch early and set the tone–free is an incredible opportunity to jump ahead and not look back!
Best Races: 9-10 Boys/11-12 Girls/13-14 Boys/13-14 Girls/15-18 Boys
Advantage: Old Keene Mill
Backstroke will start similarly and probably feel like things are getting out of hand for the Flyers, but remain patient Station faithful…that is exactly what is supposed to happen. FS will take their licks in the first few races, but once the 9-10 girls hit, the visitors might rattle off 7 of 8 remaining first-place swims in the stroke. While the finish will continuously feel like Station is being outnumbered, the one point gain in the margin will allow the flyers to slowly crawl back within striking distance. However, there are more opportunities for FS to lose points in this stroke than gain them. As stated, Station is counting on first-place finishes, while sacrificing depth and handing away 4 points to the home team. If one of those Ospreys can flip the script and steal away just one first-place finish, it could neutralize the gains made in the other swims. Every OKM backstroker should have their sights set on lane 3 and not letting FS crawl back into this fight.
Best Races: 13-14 Girls/ 13-14 Boys/ 15-18 Boys
Advantage: Lean Fairfax Station
Breaststroke should be a series of tradeoffs, with both teams going back and forth taking a little more than a handful of points. They pace pretty evenly with one and other in the 3rd stroke of the morning on paper, while setting up a few noteworthy races in reality. Don’t fall asleep here because without noticing, this might be when one of the two teams makes their mark on the win. There are close enough races throughout the events that lead this prediction maker to believe the Ospreys may find some daylight–by swinging points their way, OKM can cut down on the number of relays they need to ultimately win, which will become the focus at this point since Old Keene Mill will be lucky to win more than 4! If your favorite swimmer steals a point, this is justification for a major round of applause.
Best Races: 8-Under Boys/8-Under Girls/9-10 Boys/15-18 Girls
Advantage: Toss Up
After being up as much as roughly 30 points, Old Keene Mill will suddenly be within striking distance to start butterfly. However, OKM should grow their lead back closer to 20 points by the end of the individual events–Station will gladly take a few first places, but OKM will require them to work much harder as they close out the individual events on somewhat of a roll. If the Ospreys have momentum on their side, the Flyers are in trouble–if FS is down more than 20 points before relays, they’re doomed. Therefore, the Station ‘Flyers’ will need to get busy and find ways to win a few of these close races–just keep your team close enough if you want the win, but don’t be too surprised if OKM kicks it into drive and closes on a bang as well.
Best Races: 9-10 Boys/ 13-14 Boys/ 13-14 Girls/ 15-18 Girls
Advantage Lean Old Keene Mill
As we have pointed out several times, Fairfax station has a ridiculous advantage when it comes to relays–it is not clear if they are missing swimmers this weekend that were instrumental in first setting their top relay times last weekend, or if they are just better off a quick start than a track start. Regardless, Station has the benefit of not needing every close race to win and being able to let a few go if they can’t hold on–of course it would behoove them to keep this meet as close as possible. Old Keene Mill, on the other hand, has to be aware of how the meet is supposed to end, and use every last opportunity to move up just an inch, picking up points one at a time if they have to. It would be devastating to let Station sneak up on them and all of the sudden overcome the home team on the last relay.
Because of apparent greater team depth and strength, we are calling this one for Old Keene Mill: 225-195. The meet will never feel close, and will only look close because of the way FS closes out, but OKM has many more highly capable swimmers, and if they are prepared to compete and excited to race, the Ospreys should have no trouble putting away the Flyers at home. They have too many opportunities to score additional points, and if OKM can control the momentum of the meet to their advantage, then they may just run away with it early on. FS has consistently good top swimmers in most of their age groups, but in order to pull off the 4th quarter sneak, they cannot afford to slip at all, and when you are at the top, there is nowhere to go but down. This will be an interesting meet, and we are looking forward to seeing two good teams race hard!
Best of luck Fairfax Station and Old Keene Mill
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